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Carter Highway Committee takes no action to support gas tax increase

John Thompson • Feb 13, 2017 at 10:19 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission took no action Monday on whether or not to lend its support to Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase. The County Commission will be meeting Feb. 21.

A proposed resolution was presented to the committee that would have supported Haslam’s 7-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax increase and 12-cents-per-gallon diesel tax increase. Highway Superintendent Roger Colbaugh had placed the resolution on the agenda. The increase would raise fuel taxes to 28.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 30.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Proceeds from the increase would be earmarked for highway, bridge and other road infrastructure projects in Tennessee’s 95 counties.

In response to the inclusion of the resolution, private citizen Joni Cannon attended Monday’s Highway Committee meeting and urged the committee not to pass the resolution.

“There is no bill yet, we don’t have any idea of what it is going to say,” Cannon told the committee. She said the state had a $2 billion surplus which could be used for road and bridge renovations. She said the proposed bill was not getting a lot of support from Carter County citizens.

Committee members agreed with Cannon. Committee member Danny Ward said the resolution was premature. Commissioner Charles Von Cannon said “why vote on something that is not known yet?”

The committee did vote to support a resolution that would allow the Highway Department to work on a driveway project at Happy Valley Elementary School that would change the driveway in front of the school so cars could go from one driveway to another without having to get onto the Milligan Highway.

The committee also discussed a proposal to establish a small community park in Hampton that could be used by kayakers and others to enter the Doe River. Members of the county’s School Board, Parks and Recreation Committee and Education Committee have expressed support for the project.

Highway Committee chairman Mike Hill said he was introducing the idea to the Highway Committee because the Highway Department would be asked to grade and provide gravel for roads in the small park if it is created by the County Commission. The park is composed of 1.2 acres of Hampton High School property that was cut off from the rest of the school property when the new U.S. Highway 19E was built.

“(The land) is serving no one now. It would make an excellent picnic area and community park even if it isn’t used for river access,” said Mayor Leon Humphrey. The mayor said the land had been considered for a community park five years ago but it failed to win support at that time. He said this was a chance “to make something for the people of Hampton.”

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